Wikileaks ACTA cables confirm it was a screwjob for the global poor

Quadrature du Net's repository of #cablegate cables related to ACTA, the secretive copyright treaty reveal that governments all over the world were pissed off that the USA and Japan wouldn't let them discuss the treaty with their citizens and industry.

More importantly, they explicitly confirm that the reason that ACTA was negotiated in secret among rich countries was that this was seen as the most expeditious way of getting a super-extreme copyright agreement passed with a minimum of fuss, and that all the poor countries who were excluded from the negotiation would later be coerced into agreeing to it.

The cables note that critics wanted ACTA to take place before an existing body like WIPO, where processes were in place for transparency and for the involvement of public interest groups. But cables from the US embassy in Japan make clear that the US pushed back against this approach, in large part because it knew other nations wouldn't go along with what it wanted: "a plurilateral, TRIPS-plus Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which would aim to set a 'gold standard' for IPR enforcement among a small number of like-minded countries, and which other countries might aspire to join."

US Trade Representative official Stan McCoy "stressed that this should be a freestanding agreement, not related to any international grouping such as the G-8 or OECD, which might make it more difficult to construct a high-standards agreement."

In other words, what we got was a "coalition of the willing" bent on creating tough new enforcement rules that they would slowly seek to impose on other countries.

As a Japanese trade official noted, "we should move as fast as possible and keep in mind that the intent of the agreement is to address the IPR problems of third-nations such as China, Russia, and Brazil, not to negotiate the different interests of like-minded countries. The new agreement could serve as a yardstick for measuring the market economy status of countries such as China and Russia."

WikiLeaks Cables Shine Light on ACTA History (Quadrature du Net)

(Secret) US cables reveal: ACTA was far too secret (Ars Technica)


      1. All things considered there’s actually a lot more being done about it than is usual for a treaty negotiation. Several involved nations are vocally unhappy with the process and are pressuring for a change of pace. The public is also being given information about it in defiance of the US government’s wishes, and are contacting representatives with concerns which will likely have an effect upon the treaty’s contents.

        People are unhappy as hell with the way this went down, but people are actually doing something about it, so I wouldn’t be so cynical as to say this is just being done with complete impunity.

  1. Sometimes I think we have no more control over our government than the Egyptian people have over theirs. This is something the majority of Americans would be against, yet not only are we given no say, they keep it secret from us so we won’t even complain.

  2. What a noxious stew of euphemism and deceptive language in those excerpts. I especially love “address the IPR problems of third-nations such as China, Russia, and Brazil”, which sounds as if it might be saying that China, Russia, and Brazil have a copyright problem, which we’re generously volunteering to help them with, when what it’s actually saying is that those three nations are a problem from the point of view of the wealthy IP-owning nations.

    But that whole “gold standard” thing which other nations “might aspire to join”, man. Like a worker might “aspire to” have his benefits cut as a condition of continued employment.

  3. This reminds me of the Cold War treaty system, where any country that wants to befriend the mighty USA – and receive oodles of free money to ruin their politics…

    …must swear to oppress purveyors of mild recreational drugs.

    This is why, to this day, countries like the Netherlands have laws on their books declaring Cannabis illegal. Turning them into a nation of scofflaws.

    And it’s why organized crime in every country has more pernicious influence over their governments than the most bloodthirsty lobbyist.

  4. Hear ye! Hear ye! Let it be known to all that peruse this thread that boo is decidedly not surprised by these aforementioned so-called non-revelatory documentations of said screwjob.

  5. Not that I am a fan of this particular treaty but I would point out the perils of underdogism i.e. the automatic assumption that the weaker party in a dispute is automatically morally superior.

    In this case, poorer countries are usually poor in the first place because they don’t have representative governments. When a poor country’s government is given an international voice, it is only the interest of the high political elites that get represented and not the interest of the country’s ordinary citizens. So, just because a process includes poor countries does not mean that poor people had a voice and just because a process excludes them doesn’t mean their best interest are not being pursued.

    Regardless of subject or intent, the vast majority of negotiations with 3rd world countries devolve into shake downs for the benefit of kleptocrats. The interest of the common people are simply used as a means of extortion for the benefit for people who are already among the planets wealthiest. Unfortunately, to many people in the developed world are more worried about being seen going through the motions of helping the poor and powerless than they are in actually helping them.

    For this reason, it’s real hard to get worked up about some negotiation just because the kleptocrats got excluded.

    1. “Regardless of subject or intent, the vast majority of negotiations with 3rd world countries devolve into shake downs for the benefit of kleptocrats.”

      I fail to any contrast.

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